[Two of the country’s leading newspapers reported on Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent trip to Hiroshima. Both the New York Times and the Washington Post also took the liberty to suggest that President Obama do the same. They also took on the elephant in the room, nuclear weapons. I have quoted heavily from both editorials in this blog, leaving them to present their own arguments with little filter. Can’t say that I disagree with them.]
State Visits Matter
Secretary of State John Kerry made a recent trip to Hiroshima, the first ever official state visit from an American administration official to that living memorial to human failure. Seventy years have passed since that horrific day when scores of thousands of mostly civilians were incinerated. Due to the significance and the success of Kerry’s visit, both the New York Times and the Washington Post have urged President Barack Obama to do the same. Visit Hiroshima.
As background, the Post stated:
“After the Soviet Union obtained nuclear weapons, the era of mutually assured destruction — MAD — began. Deterrence worked during a long, tense Cold War, but not without many errors and false alarms, frighteningly overstocked arsenals, proliferation to other nations and the threat of nuclear materials falling into terrorists’ hands.”
In its editorial, the Times stated:
“Mr. Obama created big expectations in his first term when he endorsed the ambitious goal of a world without nuclear weapons…. He has achieved some important measures, most notably the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which has significantly curbed Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon, and the 2010 New Start treaty mandating cuts in the number of strategic nuclear warheads deployed by the United States and Russia to 1,550 warheads each.”
The Post goes on to imply that
“Mr. Obama might fear that critics will distort the meaning of a trip to Hiroshima. But his presence and his words would draw attention to the difficult challenges ahead. He also could counter the reckless remarks of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who suggested that Japan and South Korea might consider starting their own nuclear weapons programs.”
The Times retorts:
“But Mr. Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 largely because of his nuclear agenda, has failed to take advantage of opportunities for bolder action. He has not gotten China, India and Pakistan into talks aimed at halting the growth of their nuclear arsenals, or taken American nuclear weapons off alert. His support for a $1 trillion program to replace America’s aging nuclear weapons severely undercuts his lofty words about a ‘world without nuclear weapons.’”
Herewith is a compilation from both editorial boards about what, in addition to visiting Hiroshima, Obama “should do” to address forcefully and positively the nuclear threat the entire world lives under. These would go a long way in promoting his antinuclear legacy.
- He should cancel the new air-launched, nuclear-armed cruise missile.
- He should work to persuade the United Nations Security Council to endorse the nuclear test moratorium that all countries but North Korea observe, even though the test ban treaty has never formally taken effect.
- He should push to have the United Nations organization that monitors testing be made permanent.
- He, along with the Russians, should end Cold War practices, such as keeping intercontinental ballistic missiles on alert, ready to launch in a matter of minutes.”
In short, President Barack Hussein Obama should walk the walk of a Nobel Peace Prize recipient.